Memorial Day is typically the kick off to summer, right? We all know what that means – fun in the sun with a lot of meat cooked with fire! Forgive me for sharing this a few weeks after Memorial Day but it just didn’t seem like summer around here with all the clouds and rain. Better late than never. What is it about grilling and BBQ’ing (there is a difference you know) that gets the testosterone pumping in men? Is it the fire, the smoke, the large slabs of meat? Is it the sweet, the savory, the slop and the mop that gets rubbed, slathered, basted and glazed over a perfectly cooked piece of meat? Maybe it is all the above and then some. Whatever it is, there is a primordial instinct that takes over a man when summer hits and the grill is uncovered for the first barbecue of the year. This instinct brings out the best in male competition because we all know, regardless of who comes away on top at the field, court, rink, or diamond, that he who hath the best ribs wins (replace ribs with any meat). I don’t care if you get a hat trick or a grand slam home run, nothing compares to laying out a summer spread with a platter of perfectly grilled New York steaks with nothing but salt & pepper on them.
This time of year just awakens something in men. I know guys who couldn’t bake a chicken if their life depended on it but hand them a bag of charcoal and some matches, and you’re gonna do some good grubbin’ tonight (don’t get me wrong, I also know guys who turn anything they BBQ into something resembling a hockey puck). I get that – baked chicken simply is not as exciting as perfectly cooked chicken on the grill with a nice crisp skin and a juicy center – whether it’s barbecued, smoked, grilled, cooked fast or slow, or done on the rotisserie. So, I understand this about men. For myself, however, I love to cook inside and out. The grill is my vehicle of choice but I do it all. Fortunately, I live in California so my grill only gets covered a few months out of the year when the rain really hits.
This brings me to what I really want to talk about: summertime cooking. As I mentioned, I love to cook all the time but I love the spring and summer simply because of all the fresh flavor possibilities and everything tastes better al fresco! This time of year has so many options for fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, creating the possibility for simple flavors to complex, layered flavors. I ‘cue everything from ribs with a complex spice rub and sauce with fresh ingredients to a simple grilled chicken marinated in olive oil with fresh lemon juice and oregano from my garden – both are to die for. The possibilities seem endless this time of year. Just add some fresh ingredients and fresh air and all is well. I have even been known to grill dessert!
Another great thing about this time of year is the al fresco part. More than just eating outside, it is nice just hanging out beyond the confines of walls, TV, a hot oven, and the wii, x-box or PS3. There is nothing better than hanging out with friends and family with the smell of BBQ in the air and the sound of laughing kids and playing dogs in the backyard. Like the title says, Grillin’ & Chillin’. After all, that’s what summer’s all about!
– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad